Saturday, October 04, 2008

Mamma Mania

No you didn't see wrongly, and neither is that a typo error on my part for the title. It was actually a combination of "Mamma Mia!" and "Abba Mania", the 2 ABBA-inspired events which I had attended lately. "Mamma Mia!" is a movie adapted from the West End musical of the same name, which was in turn inspired and consists entirely of ABBA's songs, whereas "Abba Mania" is a concert by Abba Mania, a cover band of ABBA, trying to recreate the visual and acoustic atmosphere of an authentic ABBA performance.

I watched "Mamma Mia!" last Saturday, and although I was very much looking forward to its opening in Singapore, I know I shouldn't expect much, since not everyone in the movie is known for their singing. Furthermore, as I've not watched the musical itself, I'm not even sure if the songs of ABBA can really fit well into the movie, especially when the lyrics were all left untouched. Surprisingly, everything gels pretty well together and if I had not listened to ABBA's songs before, I'd have thought that the songs were all written for the musical/ movie itself. It was a rather entertaining movie with lots of laughs, and many a times it's the ensemble, in the form of hotel workers and fellow islanders, who spiced up the various song segments a lot. One major letdown was, however, the singing ability (or lack of to be honest) of Pierce Brosnan. Meryl Streep, who wasn't known to be able to sing previously, sounded much better than him on the contrary. However, I thought the acoustics for the songs in the movie (or whatever you call it) sounded rather strange; the vocals and the music doesn't quite seem to blend nicely, and sounded as if they were recorded separately and then superimposed onto one another. Or maybe they really did that, but they should have tweaked it to make it sound more "realistic".

As for "Abba Mania", I watched it this afternoon, exactly a week apart. The feel of this 2 events are totally different; the former used the songs of ABBA in totally different contexts, whereas the latter tried to make the audience feel as if they're going back in time and watching a real ABBA concert. Consisting of Mark Thomas, Philip David Hawkes, Lydia Griffiths and Carley Broom taking on the roles of Bjorn, Benny, Anni-Frid and Agnetha respectively, they churned out classic after classic. Not only did they sing, but also speak and behave as if they were their characters, making this events less like an imitation performance, but more like a concert. The audience were initially shy about doing anything else other than sitting rooted in their seats and watch actions unfold on stage, but with the catchy music and the ability of the band to create the right atmosphere, in no time many people started standing up, singing and clapping to the songs. It's a pity that the Esplanade Theatre is afterall meant for theatrical performances and not so much for such concerts, hence it is hard for the audience to really get up to dance and jive. Like I was sitting in Circle 2 on the front-most row, and I was afraid that if I were to stand up, I might be blocking the view of people sitting behind me who couldn't stand up like me due to the miserably small floor space they had. However, by the second half of Act 2, I guessed many people dismissed the venue's restrictions and started to stand up as if watching a concert by the Esplanade waterfront or at Singapore Indoor Stadium. "Abba Mania" was a big success, as I can see from the turnout and the response by the majority of the audience. Overall I find that although the band's nowhere near the original ABBA, they performed quite well. However, I just felt that Carley Broom's voice sounded a bit strained and tired at some points of the concert whereby she was supposed to sing solo. It was a small pity, but overall the concert was great, and I should really sing "Thank You For The Music" to them!

Funny Mamma Mia!

So I just returned from Abbamania, but before I think of what to write about it, let me put a clip of Mamma Mia! the musical, not the "original" version, but a hilarious skit based on the original, done by the original Broadway cast. Enjoy!